Veolia set to begin wastewater upgrades

Posted by Jacquelyn Moorehead from The Valley Breeze on July 2, 2019

SMITHFIELD – Veolia Water will soon begin upgrades and repairs at the Smithfield Wastewater Treatment Facility, which was awarded the 2018 Gold Award for Permit Compliance for the second year in a row last week.

Veolia took a snapshot of the 480 assets at the wastewater facility, and found the condition of 3 percent of the equipment at extreme risk of failure, according to Town Engineer Kevin Cleary.

He said numerous items are pinpointed in the $600,000, 10-year capital improvement plan. First on the list was the chlorination tank that disinfects filtered wastewater in one of the final processes at the facility.

Veolia proposed to repair the chlorination system by removing the old exterior tank with a new, interior tank and pumps.

Cleary said the 25-year-old chlorination tank is leaking, and is at risk of going outside of its containment. He said problems with the tank began in 2017, and the SWTF has replaced parts and fixtures on it in the past.

The outdoor tank has a containment tub around it, but Cleary said a leak could stop production of wastewater.

“If it breaks, it is essentially a bathtub,” Cleary said.

Veolia proposed to complete the design-build project for a total cost of $298,000 with full risk to the company. An estimate for an outside company to complete the same project was $700,000, with the town responsible for overruns and possible delays.

“We’re using in essence Veolia’s buying power in the industry,” Cleary said of the differing costs.

Veolia and the SWTF are five years into a 10-year contract with the town.

Cleary said the clock starts ticking on the project the moment the contract is negotiated and signed. The project will be funded using money from the sewer fund.

The Town Council approved Veolia, with a favorable recommendation from the Sewer Authority, for the one-year project at the June 18 meeting.

Cleary and Veolia Water project Manager Karen Goff led a tour with Smithfield council members, residents and town administrators around the Smithfield Wastewater Treatment Facility last Thursday, June 27, showcasing the equipment that treats local wastewater.

Cleary said the tour was an effort to get people down to see the good work being done at the treatment plant.

“In my opinion, this is the biggest asset this community has. Without it, the town would not be able to grow and become stagnant,” Cleary said.

According to the Narragansett Water Pollution Control Association, Veolia and SWTF produces safe, clean water from Smithfield wastewater.

From wastewater to clean water, Cleary said the plant processes 2 million gallons of wastewater per day, with the maximum capacity of 3.5 million gallons, or operating at 56 percent capacity. For comparison, the city of Cranston’s plants process 24 million gallons per day.

“But, we are growing,” Cleary said.

The plant operates around the clock every day, Goff said, joking that residents don’t like being told not to flush their toilets.

The plant uses a mixture of chemicals and sand filters to get sludge from light brown to clear, and is continuously monitored, Goff said. In the end, water is chlorinated, then de-chlorinated, and released into the Woonasquatucket River.

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